- 24 Dec
When Howard Gordon “Gelo” Hall was 11, he had one of the greatest experiences of his life. His dad, Howard, a jockey’s valet who worked at Pimlico Race Course, took him to see the match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral. It was 1938 and that race was a spectacle he would always remember.
It also was the beginning of his lifelong love affair with thoroughbred racing, a fascination that lasted until his death. Hall passed away suddenly on Dec. 10, 2015, due to a hemorrhage following a recent fall at his Windsor Mill home.
“My dad had two things he believed in deeply,” Gelo’s daughter Janis says. “The track and God, the family came after them. He loved the racetrack.”
At age 14, Gelo went to work for H.L. Straus in Reisterstown breaking horses. From there it was on to Pimlico where he went to work for Frank “Downey” Bonsal. It was just the beginning. He would get his nickname there, while working with his older brother Angelo. Angelo was known as “Big Gelo” and he was known as “Little Gelo.”
“When my uncle left the track, Dad became Gelo and it just stuck forever,” Janis Hall says. “Dad must have been about 14 or so then. I think more people know him as Gelo than anything else. I think a lot of people don’t even know his first name.”
But over the years, it seems everyone came to know Gelo Hall.